Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day 2015 - I'm feeling it, Dad!

Dad, his mother, and his sister-in-law Mary.
Guessing 1960-ish in Vancouver.

6/21/15.  I had a great Father's Day today.  Activity-wise it wasn't so unusual... Natasha and I walked the dogs and played some basketball.  I watched a movie in the afternoon, and then we all went out to Chouchou restaurant for the first time, which was great.

My girls made an effort to help me have a special day, but the reality is the best thing about it was the normalness of it.  I get such joy from being this little girl's father that on this Father's Day I took the time to both appreciate the moment and the fact that my life is filled with these moments.

Dad used to say, "You'll understand when you're a father."  He was talking about the delight a father gets out of the smallest, silliest things his little girl does.  How pride surges when she figures something out, or demonstrates kindness.  How joyous it is to sit across from her at dinner and look at her perfect little bangs I just cut and the jewelry she's wearing that she made this week.  How her happiness spurs my own.  How it wouldn't even be a question what I would do if for some reason I had to sacrifice my life for hers.  And I can't believe the special cuddling relationship that only a daddy and daughter can have.

Family is the best.  It's incredible.  Somewhere my dad is happy I feel this.

Today, before dinner.  One of many hugs.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dad's birthday, 2014

OK, I'm not exactly diligent.  But I am really missing Dad this year.  Maybe it's because I need more comfort these days.  Maybe it's because Tasha's growing up and I want him to see it.

Happy birthday, Dad!  I love you!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dad's birthday, 2010

I'll just share my Facebook post this year.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How to find Harold and Kathy Mah's gravesite

After we visited my grandparents' grave, we needed to go to Auntie Kathy's burial. But the only information we had about the location was that it was called "Alto Reste," no address. (OK, this is the importance of following the caravan.) But thankfully, there's the 21st century cell phone. First, I tried to find it on the Internet. With no luck there, I spotted a sign for "Red Deer Cemetary Services" outside the Red Deer Cemetery, and I called that number. That happened to ring at Alto Reste, and I got good directions out there.

Unfortunately, Google does not have a satellite photo of this area, nor does this cemetery have an actual address. Just type "Alto Reste, Red Deer" into Google Maps and you get this:

Basically, you head out 2A and it pops right up on the right. Drive on in and go straight back (perpendicular to 2A), going around an obstacle or two. Then take the last left that isn't all the way behind everything. Here's two views from the intersection nearest the plot:

We had missed everyone (saw some of them driving the other way on the way out), but we watched Auntie Kathy's casket get lowered into the ground. I found out later from Sheldon that they had done it with everyone there, but someone noticed they'd pointed her backwards. So we saw the final lowering. Last shot: the headstone.

I lifted the Astroturf off Uncle Harold and spread more ashes, then sprinkled some on Auntie Kathy's casket too.

That wraps up Alberta. On our drive out, Debbie said she just heard from Dad's ghost, and he had said "Good son."

Aww, thanks Dad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How to find the gravesite of Dad's parents, Mah Foo and Ven Fong Wong

First, you go to Red Deer, Alberta.

It was only after arriving at Gaetz Memorial Church for Auntie Kathy's services on June 1 that we discovered that she was not being buried at the same graveyard as my grandparents. We always thought of Red Deer as a pretty small place, but with 88,000 current residents, they have two graveyards. This left us without much time to visit both graveyards before making the 75 minute drive back to Calgary to catch our plane.

When the procession after the services appeared to have no police escort, and we realized the entire group was doing a drive-by of the family house (A Chinese luck ritual... there's a million of 'em), Mom wisely suggested we bail on that caravan and go find Dad's parents' site first. Unfortunately, the directions I gleaned and cross-referenced from people before the service were terrible. We took a long time to finally find the Red Deer Cemetery.

Best tip: The cemetery is only listed as being on "55 Street," but if you put 3980 55 St, Red Deer, Alberta into a Google Maps search, it comes up right at the cemetery entrance. There's plenty of street parking. If Google changes over time and this search doesn't work so well, just find the "Michener Centre" and go West a block or so. Or try "55 St. and McLellan Drive." At this point in time, the satellite photo loaded into Google is ancient... the cemetery is hardly developed at all. Park near the Google "A" on the map and follow the red line to the red dot.
The following photo sequence shows the views you'll see as you walk towards the spot. Once you get to the giant shed to the left of section V, you count in 13 rows to the right and then go halfway up the row. Right now there's a birdhouse at the other end of row 13.
Finally, here's a shot of me completing the mission to spread Dad's ashes on his parents' grave.
Last stop, Alto Reste with Uncle Harold and Auntie Kathy.

How to find Barry Mar's gravesite

At the end of May Auntie Kathy unexpectedly passed away, and so Mom, Debbie, Winnie, and I made the trip to Alberta to attend the funeral. The story of that trip is told on my family website here. While we were up there, we were determined to visit all the family graves and spread Dad's ashes over them.

Finding the graves proved so difficult, that I resolved to document the directions for anyone who wants to make the journey. Even once we found the graveyards, finding the graves was such a hopeless endeavor that it was only through Winnie's bloodhound-like skills and her receptiveness to guidance from the family ghosts that we were able to find Uncle Barry and our grandparents.

So first: Calgary and Uncle Barry.

Uncle Barry is buried at Queens Park Cemetery at 3219 4th Street N.W., T2M 3A6, phone number 403-221-3660. The plot location is Lot W, Block B4, Section L67, but frankly all we ever found to mark any of it was a signpost marking lot W in it's Northeast corner. A key feature of this lot is that there are no standing headstones... all of them lie flat. Here's the map (click to enlarge) that you'll actually need:

Park where the red line stops. The grave is approximately where I put the red dot. See the shot below for how the surrounding area looks. Note the building immediately West, and the view of the treeline looking East.

Don't count on any help from the cemetery personnel or signage. Any buildings they had were locked up tight in the middle of a Sunday, with no maps posted.

Next, my grandparents.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A thank you story

Julie and I had lunch with our friend Stacie a couple of weeks ago, and she's a professional biologist. I said that I was interested in contacting whichever research scientist deserves the most credit for developing Tarceva, the anti-cancer drug that made the biggest difference for Dad. She agreed with my implication that for a drug to make it to market, there are a lot of people involved, so it's hard to give any one person credit. But fortunately, the easiest person to find would be the one who filed the original research.

Yesterday, she came up with a name and sent me this:

Hi Glenn,

I found him with some help from a chemist friend! But I can't find contact info yet--I will keep trying. I did see he is on LinkedIn but I dont' have a way to access him there since I don't have the upgraded membership. His current company doesn't seem to have a website although that google search is what took me to find him on LinkedIn. I could try pinging former OSI colleagues since I know their email formula and some of his former colleagues are surely still there.

From his bio at Pharminox (he is on the Board):

Lee D. Arnold PhD
Dr. Arnold has an exceptionally broad research background in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, structure-based drug design, cell biology, biochemistry, drug metabolism, and biophysics. With pharma industry experience from Syntex, Pfizer Central Research, BASF/Abbott Bioresearch, and OSI Pharmaceuticals, he brings a history of over 22 years of industry contributions in molecularly-targeted small-molecule drug discovery in oncology. In his most recent corporate position as Vice President of US Research at OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2003 to 2007, Dr. Arnold oversaw discovery research in Cancer Chemistry, Biology, and Leads Discovery.
During his career Dr Arnold has played an integral role in delivering 7 innovative drug candidates into development for Oncology. One of his inventions, Tarceva ®, the first potent, selective, reversible EGFR inhibitor demonstrated to improve survival in lung and pancreatic carcinoma patients, has become a marketed blockbuster. Four others, including first-in-class selective inhibitors of IGF1-R and TORC1/TORC2 continue to advance in cancer clinical trials.
Dr. Arnold is currently President & CEO of DiscoverElucidations , aiding academic researchers, fledgling biotechs, and large pharma in discovery and development efforts in a range of therapeutic areas. He is also a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a member of the Institute of Cell Biology and Drug Discovery. He is recognized in oncology drug discovery through his inventorship on over fifty patent filings, thirty peer-reviewed publications, and numerous presentations, disclosing more than 15 distinct chemotypes of kinase inhibitors.

Well taking that to Google made it easy to find a presentation he did with his contact info, and then I wrote him this note:

Dr. Arnold,

I believe (based on published research as well as your bio at Pharminox) that you were instrumental in the development of Tarceva. I lost my father to lung cancer last July (2008), but it is without question that his condition and enjoyment of life was substantially improved starting with when he started taking Tarceva in May 2006. This was tremendously important to my family, not only because we got that much more time with him, but because we needed all that time for him to meet my only child. My wife and I adopted a girl from China in March 2008, and what we originally thought was going to be a 1 year wait turned into 2 1/2 as China's process slowed way down. It meant the world to me that my father was able to spend several months with my daughter.

Thank you to you and your team for giving us that. I'm sure there are many other similar stories out there and you have every reason to feel that your work has made a real difference in people's lives.

Glenn Mar
San Francisco

And today he wrote me back!

Dear Glenn

Many thanks for your e-mail. You are correct, I was the inventor of Tarceva, but as you are aware the discovery of the drug was a team effort that involved many dedicated scientists. Unfortunately, Rodney Schnur, a coinventor on the patent covering Tarceva and related molecules did not survive lymphoma to see it reach the market.

I also lost my father to lung cancer - just before Tarceva was approved - and understand the significance of the precious time and quality of life. Your message was truly uplifting. Drug discovery is a roller-coaster ride, often with more disappointments than conquests, and in the lab we are far removed from the patients we hope to aid. Your encouragement helps keep cancer researchers eternally optimistic and motivated – and believing that they may make a difference in some small way. Since Tarceva, I have moved 6 more potential drugs toward the clinic, and I will continue to work to discover new agents which hopefully will provide greater life extension and improved quality of life.

Thanks again for your inspirational message.
Best wishes to you and your family.

Lee D. Arnold

Pretty cool, huh? Thanks, Stacie!